Kalaari’s limited partners made more than $600 mn in 2021 

Vani Kola, founder and managing director, Kalaari Capital. mint
Vani Kola, founder and managing director, Kalaari Capital. mint


The VC firm has partially exited cos such as Dream11 and Simplilearn

MUMBAI : Venture capital (VC) firm Kalaari Capital’s limited partners (LPs) have earned returns of more than $600 million in 2021 alone after the firm’s exit from about 10 companies, either partially or fully.

“We have had about 8-10 solid exits this year, some larger than the others. I think a couple of our funds have returned over 2x the capital raised and still have significant portfolio holdings in them," Vani Kola, founder and managing director of Kalaari Capital, said in an interview. “I expect that most of our funds will offer somewhere between a 4x to 5x return in total distribution over time," she added.

The fund that Kalaari launched in 2011 continues to be its best fund to date in terms of returns, according to Kola. In addition, she said another opportunity fund launched in 2016 continues to give robust returns to its LPs. The VC firm, currently investing from its fourth fund, has Reliance Industries among its LPs.

According to Kola, about 40-45% of the fund is currently deployed, and the firm needs to provide follow-on capital to companies.

Kola’s comments come when Indian startups have witnessed record fundraising from both international and domestic VC and private equity (PE) firms in a year that has spawned 42 unicorns, or privately held companies valued at more than $1 billion, to date.

Kalaari Capital bet $75-90 million in 22 investments this year, ranking among leading private market investors in India in terms of activity. The early-stage VC firm has also partially exited some of its largest portfolio firms, including Dream11, Simplilearn, MilkBasket, Shop101, among others this year, generating healthy returns for its LPs in the process.

The VC’s biggest success to date has been its partial exit from fantasy sports firm Dream11, owned by Dream Sports. In a LinkedIn post on 1 April, Kola said the VC firm had returned as much as $206 million to its LPs, without divulging details.

This year, Kalaari Capital has invested in many new sectors, including fintech, e-commerce, SaaS (software-as-a-service), and NFTs (non-fungible tokens).

According to Kola, the VC firm continues to be bullish on these sectors.

“We invested in these deep-tech companies because there’s this growing tsunami in the services industry, to the product industry, to emerging technologies and IP-based companies. These are things that we could not do for two to three years," Kola said. “I think largely put, all this is bringing this digital transformation, and social-behavioural shift in India... it’s representing that in a microcosm," she added.

The VC firm recently launched CXXO, which seeks to invest in startups led by women. As stated on its website, the mission of this programme is to level “the playing field for women founder-CEOs in shaping India’s digital future by creating exponential value in the economy". Kalaari Capital has earmarked $10 million for the programme and backed three companies to date—Samosa Party, Kindlife and Creative Galileo.

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